The Nationals have been lacking any real offensive production out of the No. 2 spot in their lineup for much of the last five weeks.
Jayson Werth is now back after missing nearly all of May with a hamstring injury, and he’s brought the pop back to the No. 2 hole.
Werth crushed a two-run homer to left with two outs in the third inning, putting the Nats on the scoreboard. It was Werth’s fifth homer of the season and first since he returned to the Nats’ lineup earlier this week.
That’s been all the Nats have been able to muster off Twins right-hander Kevin Correia through four innings.
Correia isn’t a strikeout pitcher, but he’s K’d six so far, and yet again, a pitcher with a mediocre ERA (4.26 coming into today for Correia) is keeping the Nats in check.
Gio Gonzalez has given up three runs through five innings, but only two of those runs are earned.
Adam LaRoche’s fifth error of the season, which came on a Justin Morneau grounder that got through his legs and went into the right field corner, allowed former National Josh Willingham to score from first. Morneau then came in on a Brian Dozier single.
Joe Mauer homered to left in the fifth inning, giving the Twins the lead.
LaRoche only had seven errors last season, and he won a Gold Glove for the first time in his career. The defensive performance has dropped from LaRoche this season, and LaRoche now has two errors in his last three games.
Update: The Nats have gone 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position today, and still trail the Twins 3-2 after six.
The team with the second-fewest runs scored in the majors this season continues to have issues pushing runners across the plate.
Gonzalez is done after six innings, as his pitch count got elevated in a hurry. He threw 114 pitches over his six frames, and while it wasn’t his best outing - he walked four, one of which was intentional, and allowed nine baserunners - he’s kept the Nats in it and delivered a quality start.
The left-hander was let down a bit by his defense, and the lack of offense from his teammates has Gonzalez in line for the loss.
Update II: Baseball is a strange game. You can go weeks without a big knock, then have a bloop or an infield hit completely turn the tide.
The Nats have to hope Kurt Suzuki’s 150-foot double gets them jumpstarted after a very slow offensive start to the season.
Suzuki tied the game in the top of the seventh when his chopper off the plate got under the glove of Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon, who had charged the ball and was trying to scoop it and gun Suzuki at first. Anthony Rendon came around from second base to score on the play, and a weakly-hit ball turned into a game-tying RBI double for Suzuki.
It’s 3-3 after seven with Tyler Clippard coming on to work the eighth.
Update III: Both teams failed to plate a run in the eighth or ninth, and we’ve got bonus baseball on a gorgeous evening in D.C.
41,587 are on hand for this one, giving the Nats a sellout and the ninth-largest regular season crowd ever at Nats Park.
Rookie right-hander Erik Davis comes on for the 10th for the Nationals.
Update IV: Craig Stammen gave up an RBI single to Ryan Doumit in the top of the 11th, and the Twins took the opener if this three-game series 4-3.
Nats pitchers allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in each of the game’s last four innings. Stammen walked the leadoff hitter in the 11th - Chris Herrmann - and that came back to bite him.
The Twins drew seven walks today. The Nats drew zero. Won’t win many games that way.
The Nats fall to two games below .500 for the first time this season. They’re 29-31 on the year.